The Echoes of the Mind (138-2) Interruptions


Interruptions are common in conversation. Back-channeling may interrupt. In doing so, back-channel interruptions are typically confirming rather than disagreeing.

Interruptions serve distinct functions. They may add information, correct the speaker, seek clarification or further information, change the topic, or end the conversation.

As a pattern of behavior, interruptions are an assertion of social power. Authority figures – bosses, supervisors, police, judges, interviewers – are chronic interrupters.

Genders differ in their interruption patterns. While there is scant distinction in interruption rates between boys and girls, men generally interrupt more often than women.

Males use specific conversational strategies to reproduce structural relationships of power and dominance at the micro level. ~ American psychologist Kriss Drass

More masculine people – male or female – tend to interrupt. Fathers interrupt their children more often than mothers. Both parents tend to interrupt daughters more than sons. Women judge simultaneous talking as being an interruption more than men do.

Verbal aggressiveness is a better predictor of recognition of interruption than gender. People who measure high in verbal aggressiveness react less to simultaneity as being negative than people who measure low in verbal aggressiveness. ~ American communication scholars Mary Bresnahan & Deborah Cai